Free Fantasy Baseball advice with The Fantasy Man's 2011 Fantasy Baseball Catchers rankings. Much of a winning fantasy baseball strategy goes into how you draft your the catcher position. In a two catcher league, do you draft a top dog or do you wait and look for value late in the draft? Let these rankings lead you to the promise land.
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2011 Fantasy Baseball Catchers Rankings:
1. Joe Mauer - Is he the 2009 "Power" Mauer or the 2010 "Where's the Power" Mauer? I'd say somewhere in between
2. Victor Martinez - .300/20/90+ every year when healthy plus 1B eligibility ranks him higher than McCann
3. Brian McCann - Best all-around hitting catcher after Mauer, AND still hasn't hit his prime yet! Only 26!
4. Buster Posey - Huge audition in '10, fantastic post season, will be overhyped a bit in drafts
5. Miguel Montero - 27 years old, 20HR potential, finally a break out season?
6. Matt Wieters - I like the two years of experience over Posey/Santana and more poised for the breakout
7. Carlos Santana - Let's make sure he's healthy first, but has top 3 ability
8. Geovany Soto - Hit .280/17/53 in 322 AB!!! If he stays healthy for 450 AB could be in for a big season
9. Jorge Posada - Will get full-time DH AB with some days at catcher sprinkled in, don't sleep on Posada
10. Mike Napoli - 25+HR in 400AB is what you want here, BUT, doesn't play everyday with a low BA
11. John Buck - Contract year explosion in '10, could regress a bit in BA but 20+HR power is real
12. Russell Martin - Risky, could be feast or famine (Only if Montero doesn't make the team. If he does, Martin slides down quite a bit)
13. Kurt Suzuki - No breakout last year, boo. Maybe this year?? Great contact hitter, never K's
14. Yadier Molina - Just entering prime, can steal 5-10 bases, never K's, good BA, solid with upside
15. Ryan Doumit - Has OF eligibility but was a bit inconsistent in '10, makes for a great sleeper
16. Carlos Ruiz - Same type of hitter as Y. Molina minus the SB's and no upside, hits for BA though
17. Jesus Montero - Monster offensive potential, draft and stash as keeper potential
18. J.P. Arencibia - If John Buck leaves, Arencibia should get the call, 20+HR potential with low BA in '11
19. John Jaso - Hit .263 with 44 RBI in 339 AB with 59BB and only 39K, oh, and throw in 4 SB
20. Jason Castro - Hit .300/10/73/.380OBP in minors last year, will start full-time this year
21. Chris Ianetta - Olivo gone so Ianetta looks to be the starter
22. Ramon Hernandez - Hit .290 last year with 7 HR in 313 AB, nice value with your last pick
23. Wilson Ramos - Catcher of the future in WAS but will initially platoon with Pudge
24. Jonathon LuCroy - Showed high BA/OBP potential in minors, should be the starter
25. Josh Thole - Unless the Mets sign a catcher, Thole will get full-time duty, has solid BA potential
26. Chris Snyder - 20HR power but could platoon with Doumit in 2011
27. A.J. Pierzynski - Good contact hitter, hits a few HR but no upside
28. Miguel Olivo - Let's see where he ends up, 15-20+ HR power with low BA as a part-timer
29. Alex Avila - Will platoon, only 23, potential to hit .260/10-15/50 with upside with 400+ab
30. Bengie Molina - He's done but could have a surprising re-emergence
31. Adam Moore - Light hitting catcher with 4 HR in 200 AB
32. Rod Barajas - Nice hot start last season, then fizzled out in second half
Catcher Draft Day Strategy:
I ranked Martinez in the #2 slot because of his multi-position eligibility along with his consistency when healthy. Drafting a player like Martinez, in a weak position like catcher, allows you to grab and stash a late round prospect at catcher such as many of us did in Buster Posey or Carlos Santana back in 2010. Assuming you had a hole at 1B, CI or DH, you can justify moving Martinez to fill that hole while activating a Buster Posey or a Carlos Santana which we all did last year. Would you rather have activated Posey at catcher and moved Martinez to CI or would you rather pick up weak performing CI like a Chase Headley or Kevin Kouzmanoff? That's a strategy that paid off in 2010 and can also happen again this year late in your fantasy draft with newcomers potentially in J.P. Arencibia, Jesus Montero, Wilson Ramos and Jason Castro to name a few.
Predicting the Draft:
You have to expect Mauer to be picked by the end of the 2nd round in a 12 team league where you draft two catchers. McCann and Martinez are most likely gone by the end of the 4th round. Then the question is how early do you want to jump on Montero/Wieters/Posey/Santana. With a ton of starting pitchers going in rounds 4-7 like always, I think a great strategy is to pick the catcher of this tier that drops into rounds 8-10. You'll get good value here because none of these three will regress obviously, you don't have to stretch to make a pick earlier and miss out on other more valuable players, and if you miss on all three, you still have some solid fantasy contributors in Soto, Posada, Suzuki, Napoli, etc. After these guys, you can wait until the end of the draft to pick a catcher with prospects like Montero, Arencibia, and Ramos being picked ahead of the rest.
The big sleepers in 2011 at the catcher position are Carlos Santana, Jesus Montero, J.P. Arencibia, and Jason Castro as far as keeper potential. I'm not sure Santana is much of a sleeper this year but in 150AB before he got hurt last season, Santana had 37BB, only 29K with a .401 OBP along with 3 SB and 6 HR. Now that's production! Imagine what he does over a full season! Santana is a huge sleeper to go from a mid round pick into the elite for 2012. Jesus Montero, still just 20 years old, has monster power potential but the Yankees aren't sure he's ready to catch everyday and handle a pitching staff. He can't move to 1B and the DH slot is used up by Posada but if he has a good spring showing, he'll make the team. J.P. Arencibia jump out and hit 2 HR in two straight games last season and then fell off the map. Assuming John Buck signs elsewhere in the off season, Arencibia should be in line to take over in Toronto. Arencibia hit .303/31/79 in 379AB in AAA last season. That's monster for a catcher, has showed patience with 34 BB and is only 24. Snag this guy now. Jason Castro took over in Houston but did not show too much in 2010. He hit .300/10/73 in 2009 in the minors but only .261/4/26 in 211AB in 2010 in AAA. Castro does however shouw great plate discipline with 32BB/24K in AAA and although he struck out 41 times in 195 AB, he also had 22 BB in the majors. Look for Castro to improve and is my pick to be a super sleeper.
Super Fantasy Man Sleeper:
Ryan Doumit: Had a super quiet second half, was a bit inconsistent, injury prone, but does still have untapped upside. He also played some OF last season with the acquisition of Chris Snyder but the Pirates found ways to get Doumit in the lineup. That shows me that the Pirates believe Doumit has skills. Now we just have to see what new Manager Clint Hurdle thinks. The C/OF eligibility gives Doumit some sneaky sleeper value late in drafts. John Jaso also makes this list as he is exceptional in the OBP department, will steal a few bases and hit some homeruns.
You guess it! I'll jump on the John Buck bandwagon. Contract year last year contributed to that spike in power. Now he gets the money, new contract, new team, and then its poop and platoon as usual.
The Fantasy Man's 2011 Strategy:
I'm certainly looking to grab one of my top 9 as listed above but only in situations where I think I'm getting good value. For example, if Mauer drops into late round 3, McCann/Martinez into round 5, or Montero/Wieters/Posey/Santana in rounds 8-10. If I get one of these players with that value, I might then look to grab Posada in rounds 11-13 if possible and then grab and stash Arencibia, Montero or Castro in case of an injury. I may then look to grab Ryan Doumit in the later rounds because of his OF eligibility. This year I want to try to grab top talent at each position and not wait until the end of the draft to pluck players at a super weak position.
The idea with drafting catchers is you want to draft players who will contribute on a daily basis. If you wait until the end of the draft to fill two slots and you grab say A.J. Pierzynski and a sleeper like Josh Thole, you're just going to screw yourself. Let's be honest, you probably won't get much or any power out of Thole and Pierzynski doesn't have any upside. The best way to go is to draft a top catcher and then a middle tier guy like Soto, Santana, Posey, Wieters, Posada, Napoli, Suzuki, etc. Or, you can go with two middle tier guys. Either way, don't wait until round 15 to grab your first catcher. Yes, there is value late if you know where to find it (i.e. Doumit, Molina, Ruiz), but your setting yourself up to fail since that strategy is super high risk. There are a ton of good young catchers this year, but only two show real power potential (Montero, Arencibia) while others seem like light hitters (Castro, LuCroy, Thole).